Billy Graham appeared a tv special on Thursday in which the reverend celebrated his 95th birthday and delivered what has been called his final sermon.
In failing health, Graham has been more inclined to stay at his mountaintop home in recent years, but turned up for a birthday celebration that drew hundreds of well-wishers.
The celebration also attracted many dignitaries, including North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory, former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, and Christian singer Michael W. Smith.
Palin credited Billy Graham with changing her family’s lives.
“In the 70s, she would tune into the Billy Graham crusades, televised. My mom was raised Catholic, and she… was yearning for something more,” Palin said. “His invitation for people to know that they could have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ — my mom understood that from the way that he could articulate it. She became a Christian, led the rest of the family to Christ, and that I believe transformed our family.”
Billy Graham was brought to the celebration in a wheelchair, and did not speak to the crowd.
Instead, he was seen in a video that was recorded over the course of the past year and played on the television special. In the sermon, Billy Graham talked about the saving power of Jesus Christ, but also said he is fearful for America’s direction.
“Our country’s in great need of a spiritual awakening,” he said. “There have been times that I’ve wept as I’ve gone from city to city and I’ve seen how far people have wandered from God.”
Aside from the sermon, the video also had clips of Billy Graham during his the days of his ministry, showing him alongside American leaders like John F. Kennedy, Bill Clinton, and Martin Luther King Jr.
The video, called My Hope America, will be aired on dozens of Christian television stations as well as Fox News Channel.
The Billy Graham tv special took on extra meaning given the reverend’s health and frail condition. His son, Franklin Graham, called the video address his father’s “last message to the nation,” nothing that Billy “won’t be able to do this again.”
The Billy Graham tv special can be seen in an online broadcast.